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Bug Boy

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  52 ratings  ·  15 reviews
It is the summer of 1934, and even at the height of the Great Depression, money is no object for the socialites at posh Saratoga Race Course. The trouble is times are tough for everyone else, especially penniless track workers like fifteenyear- old Jack Walsh. When Jack suddenly graduates from exercise rider to apprentice jockey, or bug boy, he is an overnight sensation. S ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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BUG BOY releases in June 2009. This review is based on an ARC.

This is a book that's going to make teen boys fall in love with historical fiction without ever knowing what hit them. Set in 1934 Saratoga, BUG BOY is about an apprentice jockey who finds himself living the high life when his big opportunity comes knocking. But secrets from his past, pressure from a race course thug, and the attention of a beautiful young woman from the other side of the fence make his life more complicated than he c
This book packs one heck of a powerful emotional punch. It’s brilliant.

Jack, oh, Jack. My heart broke so badly for him. You get so emotionally invested in his character that when he goes through the difficult periods of the book, you feel it along with him. Jack is not a smart character. He’s not one of your supposedly intellectual main characters that will rip off witty repertoires like it’s nothing, something I find refreshing. It’s done in a very frank way and doesn’t try to prop him up to b
Richie Partington
28 April 2009 BUG BOY by Eric Luper, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2009, 256p., ISBN: 978-0-374-31000-4

Instant fame. Boatloads of money. Expensive cars. Hot girls. Designer wardrobes. Underage drinking in exclusive clubs filled with other A-List celebrities. Hangers on. Agents. Groupies. Paparazzi. Binging and purging. Drinking and driving, Shady characters. Shameless extravagance and decadence while millions of your fellow Americans are losing their homes and their jobs.

Is it the 21st centu
Marjorie Light
A Writing Trifecta!
BUG BOY by Eric Luper

If you want a sure-fire winner this fall, bet on Eric Luper’s new novel BUG BOY across the board – to win, place, and show. A period piece featuring the Saratoga Race Track, this novel transports you back to 1930’s and into the life of an up-and-coming jockey. We are along for the ride as Jack Walsh goes from small time exerciser to big time bug boy – watching him navigate the perils of the track…from the paddock to the gate and the stalls to the finish li
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

BUG BOY takes readers deep into the world of horse racing. Eric Luper, author of BIG SLICK, a book that highlights card playing, brings the behind-the-scenes images of horse racing alive.

Jack "Shabby" Walsh says he has loved horse racing since "his diaper hit the saddle." He is now sixteen and has been gone from home for years. His father first set him up with a character named Tweed. From Tweed, Jack learned the ins and outs of the
Jack Walsh wants to become a horse jockey. His father sent him away when he was twelve to work at a stable for race horses because his family needed money during the Depression. At fifteen, Jack’s dreams come true when he becomes a bug boy. He starts racing and making more money than he ever dreamed of making. He continues to send money home to his family, but splurges some on himself and his new girlfriend. His new life as a bug boy also comes with some of the harsh realities of horse r
Sara Latta
If “Secretariat,” the movie about the legendary Triple Crown winner, has you pawing the dirt for some good reads about horse racing, I’ve got some winners for you. First out of the gate is “Bug Boy” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), by Eric Luper. Set in the summer of 1934 at the Saratoga Race Course, fifteen year-old Jack Walsh is a stable boy who sends most of what little money he makes back home to his desperately poor family. Jack, who has dreamed of racing horses “since his diaper hit the ...more
Rebecca Buerkett
This story of a Saratoga 'bug boy' turned jockey set during the 1920s was a wonderful timepiece. The characters were engaging, and a good example of historical fiction done well. I don't know much about horses, but living near Saratoga and having visited a couple of times, this was a fascinating window into not only the time period but also the lifestyle. Great book for high school students - this would engage both male and female readers. The boys will surely identify with the male protagonist ...more
Mrs. Tongate
Action packed for all horse racing fans. Better read than Homestretch too. Setting: Saratoga Race Track, 1934, during the Great Depression. 15 year old, Jack Walsh, "Bug Boy", is becoming a great jockey with secrets from his past, racing thugs trying to bring him down, a new ritzy girl interest, and more. Great read!! Historical fiction and a great racing read for all Kentuckians (adults and students). MS/HS
It was fun to read a book with so much Saratoga history and horse racing information. It was easy to cheer for this protagonist and interesting to see him wrestle with physical stress, metal challenges, and ethical dilemmas throughout the story.
Eric Luper does a great job with historical fiction! Read my interview with the author at
If you live in Saratoga Springs, this is a great read about racing at Saratoga in the 1930's. Its a good young adult book.
Would have liked a little more of the gambling aspect. Too much love story and jockey info.
I liked this one, historical fiction about Saratoga horse racing.
Great book!
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